The Denied Happiness: Stages of Violence, Terror and Repression in Colombia
Diaz Cardona, Natascha
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This thesis analyses how acts of violence, terror, and repression in Colombia can be analysed as performances, that is for the way they are constructed to be viewed by the general public. To see these acts as events that have been prepared, rehearsed, follow a dramaturgical process, and are later restaged by the media, is to come to understand that the long cycle of violence is not the result of Colombian nature (which would mean it cannot be changed), but the product of a socio-political process that follows patterns, builds status relations, and frames ways of thinking individually and socially. In this thesis, I will be looking at the constituent parts of historical and theatrical events to see how they have been constructed in order to create an effect in their audiences. This thesis triangulates theoretically between the work of Victor Turner, Richard Schechner and Diana Taylor. Each informs my application of performance studies to the case studies and allows me to build a methodological approach that is both dramaturgical and theatrical. I have selected four events as case studies. Considered chronologically from 1948 to 2008 from Colombian social history, they represent pivotal moments in the construction of violence in my country. In chapter one, I analyse the assassination of the political leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán. Chapter two examines the siege of the Palace of Justice in 1989 by the guerrilla group M-19 and how the counterattack by the army reinforced the use of violence as a method of repression. Chapter three studies the assassination of the journalist and comedian Jaime Garzón in 1999 by paramilitary forces, confirming a state of terror in which any citizen might be subject to annihilation. My final chapter begins with the case of the Falsos Positivos – the false positives case – which then leads to my conclusions. In addition, I examine the theatrical response to each of the events and evaluate the ways theatre-makers have worked to represent these social circumstances. In Chapter one, the play 1948: El Fracaso de una Utopía Popular (2015) is a collective creation by a 1948 group of researchers from Universidad del Valle. La Siempreviva (1992) by Miguel Torres in Chapter two takes elements from the siege of the Palace of Justice and is part of Colombia’s classic theatre repertoire. Chapter three analyses Corruptour (2015) by Verónica Ochoa who used postmodern theatrical devices to depict Garzon’s life and activism. The last theatrical response, in my concluding chapter, is Antígona: Tribunal de Mujeres (2013), a collective creation by Tramaluna Teatro in which the cast includes women victims of the abuse of power from the state. It is perhaps in the theatre that Colombians can create enough space to see themselves not as powerless and passive actors, but as active performers who can redress violence, terror and repression through social action. Then, Colombian society might start imagining a future with happiness more real than the present reality.